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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 06:47 GMT
Sharapova sets up Serena showdown
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova celebrates as she sees off Clijsters' challenge
Maria Sharapova will meet Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open after she brushed aside the challenge of Kim Clijsters on Thursday.

Sharapova was in aggressive form as she saw off Clijsters 6-4 6-2 in the second semi-final at the Rod Laver Arena.

The Russian's big first serve and powerful groundstrokes were too much for the popular Clijsters, despite the partisan support of the Melbourne fans.

Sharapova said: "I managed to find the big first serves when I needed them."

With Clijsters due to retire at the end of this season, this was her last appearance as a player at the Australian Open.

606 DEBATE: Your views on Sharapova's victory

After leaving the court to a prolonged standing ovation, she said: "Of course I'll miss it - it's been a pleasure playing here.

"I'm sorry I couldn't come up with a better match today - I tried everything I had, but I came up against a better player."

Sharapova, the number one seed, had fallen at the semi-final stage in both of the last two Australian Opens.

But she sought to dominate Clijsters from the start, and the 2004 runner-up could not live with the younger woman's power.

She said: "I'm excited about the final - I had a tough one here with Serena a few years ago.

"But I'm a little sad, because Kim is such a great champion on and off the court."

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